Lunchbreak: Tehina Sauce with Sabich Sandwiches

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Authors of Israeli Soul cookbook, Chef Michael Solomonov *AND*‎ restaurateur Steven Cook of Zahav, Goldie, The Rooster, Federal Donut, Abe Fischer and Dizengoff in Philadelphia


Tonight: Thursday November 29 – 7:00 p.m. -  in partnership with Read It & Eat - at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership 
610 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

Advance tickets at $30 include one beverage while tickets at $60 include one beverage plus a copy of Israeli Soul at an advance discount price. Advance packages, which are recommended, can be purchased online at


Tomorrow night: Friday November 30

Book & Author Dinner at Pacific Standard Time, 141 W. Erie St. Chicago, IL 60654


5-MINUTE HUMMUS WITH QUICK TEHINA SAUCE is excerpted from ISRAELI SOUL © 2018 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2018 by Michael Persico. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Makes about 4 cups (4 servings)


1 garlic clove

Juice of 1 lemon

1 (16-ounce) jar tehina

1 tablespoon

kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 to 1½ cups ice water


2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  1. MAKE THE TEHINA SAUCE: Nick off a piece of the garlic (about a quarter of the clove) and drop it into a food processor.
  2. Squeeze the lemon juice into the food processor. Pour the tehina on top, making sure to scrape it all out of the container, and add the salt and cumin.
  3. Process until the mixture looks peanut-buttery, about 1 minute.
  4. Stream in the ice water, a little at a time, with the motor running. Process just until the mixture is smooth and creamy and lightens to the color of dry sand. Now you have Quick Tehina Sauce!
  5. MAKE THE HUMMUS: Add the chickpeas to the tehina sauce and process for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, until the chickpeas are completely blended and the hummus is smooth and uniform in color.

Step-by-step photo captions (in book):

  1. Forget the over-garlicked hummus—ours is perfumed by just a “nick” of one clove.
  2. Squeeze fresh lemon juice right into the food processor with a handy citrus juicer.
  3. Pour a whole 16-ounce container of tehina right into the food processor, scraping out the jar well.
  4. Add cumin and salt to the mixture.
  5. Process until it looks peanut-buttery, then, still mixing, add ice water a bit at a time.
  6. Now you have Quick Tehina Sauce, which can be used in so many ways.
  7. It’s the chickpeas that make it hummus, and we happily use good canned chickpeas, super well-blended into the tehina sauce.

CLASSIC MANGO AMBA is excerpted from ISRAELI SOUL © 2018 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2018 by Michael Persico. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Makes about 1 cup

We sell golden jars of Galil amba, imported from Israel, at Goldie in Philadelphia, and other good prepared amba sauces are available online. But here’s how to make your own.

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1½ teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Kosher salt

Lemon juice

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mangoes have broken down and the mixture has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  2. Let the amba cool, then taste and add salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Refrigerate in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.

Sabich: It’s All About the Eggplant

Arik Rosenthal’s cornstarch-dredged fried eggplant at HaKosem (page 67) was a revelation to us. If there’s a credible knock against sabich, it’s a reliance on the soft textures of pita, egg, and eggplant. Adding a crunchy coating to the eggplant elegantly rebuts this critique.

HaKosem-Style Fried Eggplant

Serves 4

1 large eggplant 4 tablespoons

kosher salt
1⁄2 cup cornstarch

Canola oil, for frying

  1. Stripe the eggplant lengthwise with a vegetable peeler and trim off the ends. Slice into 12 roughly 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds. Sprinkle each of the eggplant slices on both sides with the salt and drain on a wire rack set on a baking sheet for 1 hour.
  2. Pat the slices dry with paper towels. Put the cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant in the cornstarch on both sides and tap off the excess.
  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with oil. When the oil is hot, fry the eggplant in batches for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden. With a spatula, transfer the eggplant to paper towels to drain. Cool slightly before assembly.


Sabich Tchernichovsky

TEL AVIV | Just off Allenby Street,
not far from the Carmel Market, Sabich Tchernichovsky is a relative newcomer, but their sabich (above and previous spread) is among the best in the country. Besides the rare addition of sliced boiled potatoes, the eggplant is sliced superthin so that when it’s fried, it adds extra richness to the sandwich. As if to protect the interests of its guests, a sign that hangs in the shop reads: “No sale of sabich without eggplant.”

day before and eaten at room temperature; the eggs could be plucked warm from the t’bit, where they had been slow-cooked in their shells to a creamy texture; and tehina and amba, the pickled mango sauce, were always on hand.

Sabich might have remained a culinary footnote if not for the influx of Iraqi Jews to Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, in the early 1950s. Inspired by the successful Israeli paradigm of “put it in a pita,” enterprising immigrants saw the makings of a new sandwich. By the 1960s, open- air stalls selling sabich were commonplace in and around Tel Aviv, its ancestral homeland. Since then, sabich has steadily gained in popularity amid lively arguments about where to get the best—a sure sign of its Israeli status.

One of the best examples we found was at Sabich Tchernichovsky, named for the Tel Aviv street where
it stands. Their version packs thinly sliced potatoes alongside the eggplant. Some argue that this addition comes straight from the Iraqi tradition: warm cooked potatoes were traditionally in t’bit. Others credit pure Israeli fusion, reflecting the Moroccan and Tunisian custom of eating cold potatoes in sandwiches.

The sabich at Tel Aviv’s HaKosem is similarly enlightening. The owner, Arik Rosenthal, dredges thick slabs of eggplant in cornstarch before frying to give them an extra dimension of crunch, an inspiration he took from the Israeli obsession with putting French fries in such sandwiches as shawarma. “But fries stay crispy only for a minute,” he says. “And then you ask yourself, ‘Why did
I eat all that?’” Not so his eggplant. We’ve boldly borrowed his technique.

What’s in a Name?

There are at least three theories about how sabich got its name. If it seems strange that this is not settled fact for a sandwich that is already seventy years old, consider that food always tastes better eaten alongside a story.

The most straightforward explanation is that the name derives from the Arabic sabach, which means “breakfast.” And it’s true that the sandwich is based on the traditional Shabbat breakfast of Iraqi Jews. But if you ask for sabich in Iraq, you’ll get blank stares. Nor does anything explain the transformation from sabach to sabich.

The second theory is that sabich is named for the person who first commercialized it. Most experts agree that in 1958 (or maybe 1961), Tzvi Halabi and his partner opened the first sabich kiosk on Uziel Street in Ramat

Gan, the Tel Aviv suburb where Iraqi Jewish immigrants settled in droves. Tzvi is the Hebrew word for “deer”; in Arabic, it is zabi. And so the theory goes that, needing a name for his sandwich, Halabi simply named it after himself.

The last theory is enthusiastically (and maybe exclusively) put forward by Oved Daniel, the man who has done more than anyone to install sabich in the pantheon of great Israeli sandwiches. Since 1985, he has been serving excellent sabich, along with
a healthy dose of shtick, from his centrally located stand, Oved Sabich, in Givatayim, just east of Tel Aviv.

According to Oved, the name sabich is an acronym for the main ingredients in the sandwich: salat (salad); beitza (egg); and yoter chatzil (more eggplant). This sounds a little like bullshit, and one wonders if
Oved believes it himself. It’s hard to tell. Straight-faced, he looks like an operative from the Israeli political thriller TV series Fauda, as hard- boiled as one of his eggs. But he can be playful, too. Watching Oved engage customers as he builds their pitas, you get why this is arguably the most popular sabich in all of Israel.

Newcomers are asked the
score of an imaginary soccer game between HaPoel and Maccabi, two Tel Aviv soccer teams. HaPoel, whose uniforms are red, represents the fiery harif (hot sauce). Maccabi’s yellow uniforms stand for amba (pickled mango sauce). A score of 2–1 in

favor of HaPoel means you want two spoonfuls of harif and one spoonful of amba on your sandwich. Americans may instead be asked for the Los Angeles Lakers–Chicago Bulls score. No matter what it’s called, in Oved’s hands, it’s a great meal.


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